February 17, 2013

Petting Tigers in Thailand

The Tiger Kingdom outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand. No, he's not dead. Yes, this really happened.
Yes, I spooned with a tiger. His name was Joe. 

This was truly one of the best experiences ever! It was scary at first to think that I was about to touch a real, living predator. Of course, before we set off I was told a story of someone who went to Tiger Kingdom and got mauled...

When we got into the caged-in area where four full-grown tigers were "hanging out", we were given strict instructions not to approach them from the front, or else they will think you want to play. Yeah, there was no way I was going to play with that large of a cat. When I approached "Joe", the zoo keeper told me to lay down with him, "Get close, pet his belly!" And that is what led to the picture above. I scratched his belly, patted his back, laid my head on his rising stomach, watched him yawn and flash his pearly whites and posed for the shot. It was awesome.

I used to claim that I loved traveling. The cultural aspect is truly contagious, but there's really nothing to love about traveling over 30 hours. Walking through the Tokyo airport feeling like a teenage fictitious zombie character from one of those trendy books, eating breakfast when your body feels like it's the middle of the night and consuming questionable Asian airplane food, are just some of the few glamorous traveling experiences. Then again, I'm sure First Class has a whole new spin on the travel experience just waiting for me...

Aside from the getting there and back part, my time in Thailand was encouraging and humbling. I'm beginning to realize the importance of true existence with Him. You can travel to the ends of the earth and still be stunned by His glory all around. Nothing makes me more excited for what is to come then hearing of how God is at work in and through lives across the world. It's a wake up call to what is truer than true and causes my thoughts and prayers to dwell on things eternal.

Our God reigns.  

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